Main gate of Kalkaji in-situ housing complex. Courtesy: Md Kaifee Alam

Kalkaji EWS flats beneficiaries struggling with multiple issues

Housing for the poor is a pet theme of governments, but what happens when a proper follow up is missing?

ONE year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the in-situ rehabilitation project for slum dwellers of Bhoomiheen Camp at Kalkaji Extension, Southeast Delhi, the beneficiaries are facing issues such as water scarcity, poor maintenance of lifts and buildings, waterlogging and seepage.

Around 1,860 families who are currently residing in the complex are affected on an everyday basis. The project was initiated by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in 2013 under the Sheila Dixit government. It aims to provide an improved living environment to the residents of jhuggi jhopri clusters. The inaugurated complex is the first phase of the rehabilitation project for the residents of Bhoomiheen Camp.

As per the project details available on the DDA website, the housing complex is built on a 3.068 hectare plot and contains 3,024 flats split over into five 14-storey blocks.

Each flat has a carpet area of 25 square metres with a living room, bedroom, kitchen, toilet, bathroom and balcony. Last year, Modi handed over keys to beneficiaries at Vigyan Bhawan, but the process of allocation had already begun prior to the event.

Tapas Das, a beneficiary who was allocated the flat one-and-a-half-years ago, told The Leaflet, “People are still living with seepage, broken tiles and windows, and no resolution has been done. Water shortage is another persistent issue. We are unsure of DDA’s ways of addressing the problem since the water supply continues to be patchy. Sometimes, we receive water and sometimes we don’t.”

Das added that the society was also ailed by a lack of maintenance and poor water drainage. DDA officials also visited the site and looked into the issue of sewer and drainage, but the issue has not been addressed yet.

Maintenance of lifts, buildings and sewer is not being taken care of properly,” said Das.

Another beneficiary, Rahul Dev Burman said that the water quality was bad. “Supply of water is irregular. The quality of water is pathetic and cannot be used either for drinking or any other household chore. Nobody is responsible for garbage disposal, we clean it ourselves,” said Burman, while he showed a video of worms in the water.

Families living on the upper floors of the building have additional difficulties because the lifts are in poor condition. Residents curtail their movement in order to reduce trouble. Each block includes a minimum of four lifts, however, their operation is subpar.

Condition of lifts is very bad in all the blocks, every block has four lifts but only one or two lifts work. This causes a lot of rush in those lifts,” said Das.

The DDA claims that there is one operator for each lift but there are only two lift operators who look after all the lifts in the entire society,” Burman added.

After a year since the inauguration, many of the flats are still unoccupied. Block E is only one of the five blocks that is completely vacant, and some flats in the other four blocks are also vacant. The DDA is still in the process of allocating those flats to beneficiaries, however, new allottees enter the flats with issues.

People are still getting possession of the flats, but as soon as they enter their new house, they see issues such as broken tiles and taps, seepage and faults in electrical wiring,” said Das.

As per the site plan of the DDA, an area was allocated for the construction of a primary and a secondary school inside the housing complex, but no progress has been made.

Apart from the primary and secondary school we were also promised commercial shops in the new complex for those who earn a living through shops in the Bhoomiheen Camp,” said Das.

A DDA official posted at the site said that they had set up a help desk to address queries.

We are tackling and solving all the problems that the residents are facing. We have also set up a help desk to hear and resolve the problems of the allottees. As far as the vacant flats are concerned, all the applicants who fulfilled eligibility criteria have been allotted flats,” said the DDA official, who did not wish to be named.

Work on primary and secondary school is in progress. Along with it, a community centre will also be built. Completing the residential facility was our priority and other facilities will also be completed soon,” the official added.